View Full Version : Best and Fastest Sub-D modeling software for hard surfacing and product design

07-13-2003, 11:27 AM
Hi All,

I currently model all my designs (Iím a product designer) in Nurbs using Rhino, this works great for me and Iím very happy with the results. However I have a few clients that want to see very Ďfinishí 3D concepts early in the design process. This means that after a review of sketches I have to go ahead and model every concept in Rhino (Nurbs) Tipically I have to model and render 8-12 concepts in less that a week. Iíve gotten pretty fast at modeling in Nurbs however I still miss the ability to edit a model as easily and in SubDs or polygon (trimmed edges and continuities falling apart, etc)

Iíve been learning Maya for a few months now with the intent of using SubD modeling to explore design concepts in a less restricted way that with Nurbs. And being able to edit my models easily. Well first I thought that was my lack of ability with Maya that made this process not as easy and fast as I though. Now I have come to the conclusion that Mayaís SubDs suck for my needs. Itís not real time, some edits in polygon mode just fail, selecting edges itís a pain and creasing edges is very unpredictable (especially when you make a new split in the proxy, if it doesnít fail, all creasing around it goes out of wack)

I tried Maya first because its ability to convert SubDs to Nurbs, very important for me to build CNC physical models of my designs. I also had the hope that Maya will improve subDs and modeling tools, but version 5 showed me this is not a priority for them. So I want to try something else. Iíve been doing a lot of research and the best examples of SubDs Iíve seen are done is Lightwave and XSI. I mean a lot of great cars and other products with complex yet very controlled geometry. Those Ferrariís done in Lightwave are a great example of what Iím talking about. BTW I also demoed Max5 and I just donít like it, so thatís not an option.

I donít mean to start a software war but I know nothing about Lightwave or XSI, so IĎd like some feedback of what you guys think will fit MY needs best. Price is an issue, and rendering quality and speed are too, but fast creation and editing of modeling is TOP PRIORITY. Also being able to convert to Nurbs is very important, is this possible from a Lightwave or XSI model in any way? Ideally not having to buy Maya as an overpriced export tool :), Actually Iím not even sure if this would even work.

I would really appreciate some feedback that would let me create good and fast design concept models.

07-13-2003, 12:17 PM
Well, if you need to convert your data to NURBS you will be lost both in LW and in XSI. XSI is more focused on animation and games and unlike Maya they seem not to be targeting the vizualisation market too much (unlike A|W with Studio they have no other products they need to create a pipeline for). They do not have a tool for converting entity types as far as I remember. I'm not entirely certain however, since it has been quite a while I last played around with an XSI Demo.

LW is strictly polygonal but very fast in modeling. As of now you wil always have to re-create everything in Rhino or whatever if you really need your data for anything else than just rendering nice images. Everybody here expects some improvement for current SubD as well as Splines but there quite likely will never be NURBS - LW too is focused more on animation than design.


07-13-2003, 12:25 PM
Well the conversion to Nurbs is a nice to have, but not essential. I mean currently I model 10 concepts is Rhino, and maybe 2-3 well get further develop, have models built and such.

If making 10 subD models and having to rebuild 2-3 in Nurbs in Rhino is faster that building all 10 in Rhino to beging with , it still makes sense to go this route.

What do you mean by expecting improvements in SubDs? what are the current major limitations? Also you are saying that all those cool cards modeled in Lightwave are plain old polygons, no subDs?

07-13-2003, 01:08 PM
Hi gastojunk !

I can speak abou LW and his cons and pros in your case.

You can forget NURBS in LW for now (i still hoep NewTek might add that option in next realeases but my hope is very small now :( ).

On SubDs part LW can work wiht SubDs very cool and fast (just one key hit for on/off SubDs mode) You also can edit model while you are in subDs mode wich can be pretty useful in some cases. But you have some limiations in SubDs. You can't use n-gon polys - only 3 or 4 point polys work in SubDs. It's best to keep it in Quads (4 sided polys) but triangles works also if is good. Anthe limit is thing that boolean adn similar features are useles when you work in SubDs 'coz they make n-gons wich need lot of manauly cleaning after so it's better to model it manualy form start than boolean holes or so. There is few ways how that can be solved (worakaraound) easyer with stencil and manual welding of points...

And you can convert your subDs model only in polygons model (freeze) wich can be pretty dense and usable in other SW as plain polygonal object if you need it.

I myself made few dozens of cars in LW and 99% of them are fully SubDs and rendered as SubDs models so ask if you have more questions in that area ;).

07-13-2003, 01:39 PM
Hi Lewis,

I really appreciate your input. I have seen your work before, naybe in cgtalk? and I really love it. You are one of the influences that made me consider lightwave. As I said before I'm totally cool with forgeting about Nurbs, that part of my workflow is well taken care with Rhino, and trust me I'm very familiar with the development of Rhino and adding nurbs to a package is a HUGE development effort.

So you are saying I can export only as those dense meshes of timy little quads? Well that might do the job well to have a #\3D underlay that I can snapp curves in Rhino for rebuild. It's waaaay faster to build a Nurbs model this way that doing it from scratch.

I see whay you mean about 3 and 4 sided polys and not worth using booleans. even if such limitation didn't exist I still woudl do it this way because otherwise I end up with messy cages that are hard to control and edit. Editing the form is as important to me as creating it on the fisrt place. I have the same issues with nurbs I model only with very light surfaces that I can move control vertices around and have greater control thatn having lots of tiny heavy paches. Do you know what I mean?

I have one more question, can you export as an STL file. It's bacically a polygon mesh of 3 sided paces, much like a rendering mesh. Tis would be great because I can get stereolothography parts made out of those files and also I'm even working with my modelmakers to see if they can machine on the CNC from such a file instead of a nurbs model, there are some new tools in their field that might make this possible

07-13-2003, 02:00 PM
Yeh i'am on cgtalk and few other forums also :).

Good thing with LW SubDs is tha tyou can control level of densiti in layut before rendering without any saving of model or so. You can set far away parts to be prety small SubDs level and those who are close to camera just set higher level and you save on rendering time :).

In LW you can Export 3DS, DXF and OBJ formats. I have best results with OBJ format 'coz it keeps alsmos all info (exports UV maps and surfaces + layers and part names...) 3DS export form LW is tha tolder one wich have 65000 (or 64000) polygons limit per object, so you often need to beake up apart object in few separate pieces. Bat that's limitation of old 3DS format and not LW (old *.lwo format also have that limit in LW 5.6 and before but with introducing LW 6 we got new lwo_2 format and 3DStudio users got MAX format for solving 3DS limits).

But for nicer results i would recommend you to buy some of popular 3D converters like "Deep Exploration" or "Polytrans". They will convert you many things natively and painless :).

As for STL format i saw on this Newtek Forum that someone (i think it's Lightwolf) made STL import plugin to LW wich works great as i saw. Search on IGES import subject 'coz i think it's posted there or ask Lightwolf directly for link. I'am not sure is there reverse option LW--->STL but i remembered that STL--->LW worked fine as users said in thread.

I exported my models in 3DS, OBJ and maya format so far and polygons export worked pretty fine for all of them.